Home secretary James Cleverly unveiled a bill in the Commons to “disapply” the UK Human Rights Act in a bid to stop British judges from blocking the deportation of asylum seekers.
But the embattled Tory leader has not been able to head off a revolt by MPs on the right of the party, who are furious that the PM chose not to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
In his scathing resignation letter, Mr Jenrick told Mr Sunak he did not believe the new bill “provides us with the best possible chances of success” in getting the Rwanda flights to take off.
Adding to the PM’s woes, the sacked home secretary Suella Braverman issued a stinging attack on Mr Sunak – warning that he faces “electoral oblivion” if he fails to get Rwanda flights off the ground before the next election.
Jenrick: Bill is ‘triumph of hope over experience’
Braverman says Tories face ‘electoral oblivion’
Government produces new bill in bid to fix Rwanda plan
Sunak: I’ll do ‘what is necessary’ to get flights airborne if court intervenes
12:30 , Matt Mathers
In his speech Rishi Sunak said he would do “what is necessary” to get flights airborne if Strasbourg intervened, Kate Devlin reports.
The prime minister did not go into details on what that might mean, however.
But government sources pointed to the Rwandan government’s insistence that anything incompatible with international law could collapse the scheme.
Sunak insists Tories not a ‘joke’ on Rwanda as PM forced to plead with Labour to back plan
12:12 , Matt Mathers
The PM’s premiership has been rocked by the resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as he failed to appease the Tory right with his emergency Rwanda bill.
Mr Sunak claimed there was only “an inch” between him and MPs on the right of the party – but hardliners remain furious that he chose not to opt out of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
Sunak denies Tory government is ‘joke’ and ‘laughing stock’
11:44 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak has denied his government is a “joke” over his stop the boats pledge and insisted it was “doing what we’re saying we’re going to do” on Rwanda, Adam Forrest reports.
Asked if his government is a “joke” and a “laughing stock” on Rwanda and immigration, Mr Sunak replied: “Look at the results. You’ve been over in Calais, well the number of people crossing from France to the UK this year is down by a third, right? That’s the simple truth.”
He added: “I’m absolutely confident it’s the right approach, it’s the toughest ever approach... Going any further would mean that Rwanda will collapse the scheme and then we will have nowhere to send anyone to.”
Sunak says former Supreme Court judge thinks bill will work
11:31 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak said a former Supreme Court judge believes the government’s new immigration law will work, as the PM said: “We’ve got to end the legal merry go round”, Adam Forrest reports.
“Lord Sumption, the former Supreme Court judge, believes this Bill will work,” he said. “We will get flights off the ground, we will deter illegal migrants from coming in and we will finally stop the boats.”
Lord Sumption told the BBC earlier that if the government said Rwanda is safe through legislation, the courts “have got to treat it as safe, whether it is or not”.
Robert Jenrick ‘not right’ that bill will fail, says Sunak
11:22 , Matt Mathers
In his scathing resignation letter, Robert Jenrick made clear he wanted to bypass the ECHR – calling the bill “a triumph of hope over experience”, Adam Forrest reports.
Asked if his exiting immigration minister was right, Rishi Sunak said: “He’s simply not right actually … I’m am entirely confident that what we’re doing is the right approach.”
The Tory leader said it was the “toughest legislation that has ever been passed on this issue”.
Sunak won’t expel Tory MPs voting against Rwanda bill
11:20 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak has said he will not expel right-wing Tory MPs voting against his Rwanda bill next week – rejecting speculation he will make it a confidence vote in the government, Adam Forrest reports.
Asked if he was telling his MPs “back me or sack”, Mr Sunak initially refused to say whether next week’s showdown vote on the bill would be a confidence vote in his government. “What I’m saying, not just to MPs but to the country, is, ‘I share their frustration’,” he said.
Asked again if it would be a confidence vote and whether would expel Tory MPs who vote against it, Mr Sunak said: “No … But what this vote is about is confidence in parliament to show it gets the British people’s frustration.”
Sunak insists bill will stop ‘merry-go-round’ of legal challenges
11:19 , Matt Mathers
Sunak insists that his Rwanda bill will stop the “merry-go-round” of legal challenges stopping flights taking off.
He claims the legislation adequately responds to concerns raised by the Supreme Court and that Rwanda is now “unequivocally” a safe country.
Illegal migration undermines British sense of ‘fairness’ - Sunak
11:13 , Matt Mathers
He goes on to say that illegal migration “undermines not just our border controls, it undermines the very sense of fairness that is so central to our sense of national character”.
PM adds that Britons play by the rules, put in their “fair share” and “wait our turn”.
“Now if some people can just cut all of that out, you’ve not just lost control of your borders, you’ve fatally undermined the very fairness upon which trust is built in our system.”
‘My family came here legally'
11:08 , Matt Mathers
PM tells reporters that, as the child of immigrants, he “understands” why people decide to make the treacherous journey across the Channel.
He says people come because the UK is a great place, offering “opportunity, hope and safety”.
“But the difference is my family came here legally”, he adds.
Sunak: Bill is toughest-ever anti-illegal migration plan
11:05 , Matt Mathers
Sunak starts by saying the government has published the toughest ever anti-illegal migration law.
He says he accepts the plan will upset some people and that people would “hear a lot of criticism about it”
“So it’s right” that “I explain why I have decided to do this”.
Watch: Sunak gives update on Rwanda plan
10:57 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak is about to give a press conference on his Rwanda plan.
The prime minister was hit with a resignation last night after the government published legislation it claimed would get flights taking off.
But critics say the bill does not go far enough and the plan to deport asylum seekers will still be open to legal challenges.
We’ll bring you text updates from the press conference - you can also watch it live on The Independent’s YouTube channel:
Sunak creates new minister for ‘illegal migration’ after Jenrick exit
10:54 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak has split ministerial responsibility for legal and illegal migration as he replaced Robert Jenrick.
Michael Tomlinson will be the illegal migration minister in the Home Office, and will also attend cabinet.
Tom Pursglove will be the minister for legal migration and delivery in the Home Office.
Robert Courts replaces Mr Tomlinson as solicitor general.
Rishi Sunak faces grilling at Covid inquiry next week
10:46 , Matt Mathers
Embattled Tory leader Rishi Sunak will be grilled about his actions during the Covid pandemic when he appears before the public inquiry on Monday.
Adam Forrest reports:
Rishi Sunak will not lead us into election - anonymous Tory MP
10:29 , Matt Mathers
Amid reports that Conservative MPs have been submitting no-confidence letters, one MP has reportedly said Rishi Sunak would not lead the party into the next election.
“Rishi Sunak will not lead us into a general election,” the anonymous Tory MP told Mail on Sunday commentator Dan Hodges.
Under Tory Party rules, some 15 per cent (53) of the party’s MPs would need to send in letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak to trigger a contest.
Tory MP: “Rishi Sunak will not lead us into a general election”.
— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) December 7, 2023
Could Sunak threaten to call general election?
10:18 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak is reportedly ready to threaten to call an election if right-wing Tory MPs vote against his new Rwanda legislation, Adam Forrest reports.
The PM is considering making the vital showdown on the legislation next week – with a vote expected on Tuesday – a confidence issue, according to reports.
Convention dictates that the PM would either resign or dissolving parliament and call an election if he loses such a vote.
However, No 10 sources have denied that next week’s showdown vote will be treated as a confidence vote in the government.
Sunak to give press conference on Rwanda bill crisis
10:13 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak will hold a press conference at 11am this morning as he faces a growing crisis over his emergency Rwanda legislation, Adam Forrest reports.
No 10 is said to be increasingly worried by the number of no-confidence letters being submitted by Tory MPs, and it remains uncertain that he can push through his bill amid a growing Tory revolt on the right.
We’ll bring you live updates from the press conference once it starts.
Braverman: No one is talking about leadership challenege
09:47 , Matt Mathers
Some more comments now from Suella Braverman’s interview with Radio 4 earlier this morning.
The former home secretary, sacked in a cabinet reshuffle last month, insisted that none of her colleagues were talking about a leadership challenge to Rishi Sunak after she denied trying to oust him by spreading “poison” within the party.
“No one’s talking about leadership, or changing leadership,” she insisted, adding that she was fully behind Mr Sunak if he could fix the Rwanda deal.
Tory moderate suggests he may not back bill – says Rwanda ‘ripping’ party apart
09:26 , Matt Mathers
Senior moderate Tobias Ellwood told Times Radio that he will not support the Rwanda bill if there is “any prospect” of breaking the international laws the UK itself helped craft, Adam Forrest reports.
Mr Ellwood said the row over Rwanda was “ripping our party in half”. He said: “Rwanda has become almost totemic, if you like, that hill that we have to die on.”
The senior Tory added: “If this infighting continues, it will not just cost us the next general election, it will see our party splinter into two between the centre right and the far right.”
Warning that some moderates may not back the bill, Mr Ellwood said: “We helped craft the ECHR. We were the ones that crafted most of the laws, international laws after the Second World War. We uphold international law. We don’t break it.”
Heaton-Harris: Rwanda bill will pass Commons
09:18 , Matt Mathers
Rishi Sunak’s draft law to fix the Rwanda plan will pass a vote in the Commons next week, a cabinet minister has insisted.
Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary and a former Tory whip, said the government has enough support to get the bill through the lower chamber.
It comes as the prime minister attempts to shore up his position and secure support for the plan after Robert Jenrick quit amid fears of a wider rebellion and Tory rightwingers.
The bill is due before parliament today and will be voted on next week and Tory moderates have warned they will not vote for it if there is any chance that it breaks international law.
More comments from Mr Heaton-Harris below:
The Rwanda plan makes the ability for individuals to take legal action to have them removed from flights 'vanishingly small', says Conservative minister @chhcalling.
However, 'individuals can still challenge this in the courts', @AnnaJonesSky counters.https://t.co/DGKUYZp0O0 pic.twitter.com/fPWPyd3Imx
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 7, 2023
Robert Jenrick’s resignation is ‘not that big a story’, Tory minister claims
09:00 , Matt Mathers
A Tory minister has sought to downplay Robert Jenrick’s resignation, claiming it is “not as big a story as is being made”, Archie Mitchell reports.
Chris Heaton-Harris told LBC: “I don’t like anybody resigning from my party, but when I was Boris Johnson’s chief whip... Pretty much everyone did.
“Maybe I have a scale of proportion that others don’t have.” He added: “I don’t think it is as big a story as is being made”.
Listen to more of his interview here:
“I don’t think it’s as big a story as is being made.”
Chris Heaton-Harris tells @NickFerrariLBC that when he was Chief Whip under Boris Johnson ‘pretty much everyone resigned,’ so Robert Jenrick quitting isn’t such a big deal in comparison. pic.twitter.com/muJyLBB4n1
— LBC (@LBC) December 7, 2023
Braverman denies ‘spreading poison’ to oust Sunak as she’s challenged over attack on Rwanda plan
08:57 , Matt Mathers
As we’ve been reporting, Suella Braverman has been speaking to Radio 4 this morning about the Rwanda draft law.
Full story and audio of the exchange below:
Downing Street insists bill will prevent future legal challenges
08:50 , Matt Mathers
Emergency legislation to deem Rwanda a safe destination has been published, as the Government bids to revive the flagship asylum policy following last month’s Supreme Court defeat.
The Bill is set to be rushed through the Commons and comes after Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty in Kigali amid efforts to remedy the concerns of the UK’s highest court.
Dominic McGrath reports:
ICYMI: Robert Jenrick’s resignation letter in full
08:48 , Matt Mathers
In a scathing letter last night, Mr Jenrick described the government’s new Rwanda bill as a “triumph of hope over experience” as he quit as immigration minister.
He said he was refusing to be “yet another politician who makes promises on immigration to the British public but does not keep them.”
Read the resignation letter in full below:
Recap: What was in the bill?
08:44 , Matt Mathers
In fresh turmoil, the Rwandan government immediately responded to the move by warning that it could pull out of the deal if the UK fails to comply with international law.
Braverman: ‘Sorry truth’ is that new legislation ‘won’t work'
08:28 , Matt Mathers
Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, has been speaking to broadcasters this morning after telling Rishi Sunak he faces “electoral oblivion” as she claimed his Rwanda plan was doomed to fail.
In an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Ms Braverman said the “sorry truth” is that new legislation to revive the strategy to stop small boats “won’t work”.
“There are elements that should be welcomed in this new bill that the prime minister has presented,” she said.
“But taken as a whole and looking at the reality of the challenges that are involved in detaining people, removing people and getting them to Rwanda – this is a very litigious field and there are lots of legal frameworks that apply – the reality is and the sorry truth is that it won’t work and it will not stop the boats.”
08:22 , Matt Mathers
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live politics coverage as Rishi Sunak comes under fresh pressure over his Rwanda plan.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, quit last night in protest at a bill produced by No 10 which the prime minister said would get flights taking off the African country.
But Jenrick described the proposals as a “triumph of hope over experience”. Stay tuned for all the latest updates on this story and otherwise from Westminster and elsewhere.